Skip to main content

Color Psychology

  • Living reference work entry
  • Latest version View entry history
  • First Online:
Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

Synonyms

Chromotherapy; Psychological impact of color

Definition

Color psychology refers to a branch of study which postulates that color has a range of psychological or behavioral responses.

Overview

Color psychology and color therapy exist on the periphery of alternative medicine and are generally not accepted under the auspices of mainstream medical science and psychology. Despite this, a plethora of articles can be found in mainstream and digital media that discuss a link between color and a range of psychological, cognitive, biological, and behavioral effects. While it is often promoted that such a link exists on a universal, causal basis by some sectors of the media, there is minimal evidence to support this hypothesis. Furthermore, there are a number of factors that influence color and human response, and these include individual differences (such as age, gender, affective state, belief systems, and environmental stimuli screening ability), social and cultural differences, as...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Institutional subscriptions

References

  1. Cherry, K.: Color psychology: how colors impact moods, feelings and behaviours. About.com: Psychology. http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm (2014). Accessed 4 Jan 2014

  2. Kopacz, J.: Color in Three-Dimensional Design. McGraw-Hill, New York (2003)

    Google Scholar 

  3. Logan-Clarke, V.: What is colour therapy? http://www.colourtherapyhealing.com/ (2014). Accessed 4 Jan 2014

  4. Brainard, G.C., Hanifin, J.P., Greeson, J.M., Byrne, B., Glickman, G., Gerner, E., et al.: Action spectrum for melatonin regulation in humans. Evidence for a novel circadian photoreceptor. J. Neurosci. 21(16), 6405–6412 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Harmatz, M.G., Well, A.D., Overtree, C.E., Kawamura, K.Y., Rosal, M., Ockene, I.S.: Seasonal variation of depression and other moods: a longitudinal approach. J. Biol. Rhythm. 15(4), 344–350 (2000)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Kasper, S., Wehr, T.A., Bartko, J.J., Gaist, P.A., Rosenthal, N.E.: Epidemiological findings of seasonal changes in mood and behavior. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. 46, 823–833 (1989)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Stevens, R.G., Blask, D.E., Brainard, G.C., Hansen, J., Lockley, S.W., Provencio, I., et al.: Meeting report: the role of environmental lighting and circadian disruption in cancer and other diseases. Environ. Health Perspect. 115(9), 1357–1362 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Skene, D.J., Lockley, S.W., Thapan, K., Arendt, J.: Effects of light on human circadian rhythms. Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 39(3), 295–304 (1999)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Irlen, H.: Reading problems and Irlen coloured lenses. Dyslexia Rev. 8(3), 4–7 (1997)

    Google Scholar 

  10. Lehrl, S., Gerstmeyer, K., Jacob, J.H., Frieling, H., Henkel, A.W., Meyrer, R., et al.: Blue light improves cognitive performance. J. Neural Transm. 114, 457–460 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Warman, V.L., Dijk, D.J., Warman, G.R., Arendt, J., Skene, D.J.: Phase advancing human circadian rhythms with short wavelength light. Neurosci. Lett. 342, 37–40 (2003)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Webb, A.: Considerations for lighting in the built environment: non-visual effects of light. Energ. Buildings. 38, 721–727 (2006)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Mikellides, B.: Emotional and behavioural reactions to colour. In: Sivik, L. (ed.) Colour and Psychology: from AIC Interim Meeting 96 in Gothenburg. Colour Report F50. Scandinavian Colour Institute, Stockholm (1997)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Ali, M.R.: Pattern of EEG recovery under photic stimulation by light of different colors. Electroencephalogr. Clin. Neurophysiol. 33, 332–335 (1972)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Gerard, R.M.: Differential effects of colored lights on psychophysiological functions. University of California, Los Angeles, Unpublished Ph.D. thesis (1958)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Goldstein, K.: Some experimental observations concerning the influence of colors on the function of the organism. Occup. Ther. Rehabil. 21(3), 147–151 (1942)

    Google Scholar 

  17. Mikellides, B.: Color and psychological arousal. J. Archit. Plann. Res. 7(1), 13–20 (1990)

    Google Scholar 

  18. Manav, B.: Color-emotion associations and color preferences: a case study for residences. Color. Res. Appl. 32(2), 144–150 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ou, L.C., Luo, M.R., Woodcock, A., Wright, A.: A study of colour emotion and colour preference. Part III: colour preference modelling. Color. Res. Appl. 29(5), 381–389 (2004)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Pantone: color psychology. https://store.pantone.com/uk/en/colour-psychology (2020). Accessed 19 Oct 2020

  21. Campbell, L.: Mind body healing – how it works. https://consciouslivingmagazine.com.au/ (2009). Accessed 19 Oct 2020

  22. Wright, A.: Psychological properties of colours. http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/how-it-works (2014). Accessed 11 Jan 2014

  23. Rewell, C.: What do colours mean? Part II. https://www.wellbeing.com.au/mind-spirit/mind/what-do-colours-mean-part-ii.html (2009). Accessed 19 Oct 2020

  24. Hill, T.R.: Using Color to Create Healing Environments (Report Prepared for DuPont Corian). Little Fish Think Tank/DuPont, Atlanta (2008)

    Google Scholar 

  25. Mahnke, F.: Color, Environment and Human Response. Wiley, New York (1996)

    Google Scholar 

  26. CTH: Colour therapy healing workshop. http://www.colourtherapyhealing.com (2009). Accessed 10 Apr 2009

  27. ISCD: International school of colour and design. http://www.iscd.edu.au/default2.asp (2009). Accessed 10 Apr 2009

  28. NCC: Nature care college. http://naturecare.com.au (2009). Accessed 10 Apr 2009

  29. Gage, J.: Colour and Culture. Thames & Hudson, London (1995)

    Google Scholar 

  30. Feisner, E.A.: Colour: how to Use Colour in Art and Design. Laurence King, London (2000)

    Google Scholar 

  31. Holtzschue, L.: Understanding Color. Wiley, New York (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  32. Stone, T.L., Adams, S., Morioka, N.: Color Design Workbook. Rockport, Beverly (2006)

    Google Scholar 

  33. Tunney, S.: Guide to the Faber Birren papers. https://archives.yale.edu/repositories/5/resources/364 (1998). Accessed 19 Oct 2020

  34. Birren, F.: Color Psychology and Color Therapy. Citadel, Secaucus (1961)

    Google Scholar 

  35. Goldstein, K.: The Organism: a Holistic Approach to Biology Derived from Pathological Data in Man. Zone, New York (1995 [1939])

    Google Scholar 

  36. Gerard, R.M.: Color and emotional arousal (abstract from the program of the 66th annual convention of the American Psychological Association). Am. Psychol. 13(7), 340 (1958)

    Google Scholar 

  37. Wise, B.K., Wise, J.A., Beach, L.R.: The human factors of color in environmental design: a critical review. NASA Grant no. NCC 2–404. NASA Ames research Centre. Moffett Field. (1988)

    Google Scholar 

  38. Lüscher, M.: The Lüscher Color Test. Random House, New York (1969)

    Google Scholar 

  39. Walters, J., Apter, M.J., Svebak, S.: Color preference, arousal, and the theory of psychological reversals. Motiv. Emot. 6(3), 193–215 (1982)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Sutherland, W.J., Spiegelhalter, D., Burgman, M.A.: Twenty tips for interpreting scientific claims. Nature. 503, 335–337 (2013)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Nakshian, J.S.: The effect of red and green surrounding on behavior. J. Gen. Psychol. 70(1), 143–161 (1964)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Nourse, E.W., Welch, R.B.: Emotional attributes of color: a comparison of violet and green. Percept. Mot. Skills. 32(2), 403–406 (1971)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Goodfellow, R.A., Smith, P.C.: Effects of environmental color on two psychomotor tasks. Percept. Mot. Skills. 37(1), 296–298 (1973)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Ferrell, W., McKay, A., Apatow, J., McKay, A.: Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy. DreamWorks Pictures, Los Angeles (2004)

    Google Scholar 

  45. Argyrous, G.: Statistics for Social and Health Research. Sage, London (2001)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  46. Campbell, D.T., Stanley, J.C.: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research. Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1963)

    Google Scholar 

  47. Coolican, H.: Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology, 4th edn. Hodder & Stoughton, London (2004)

    Google Scholar 

  48. Hård, A., Sivik, L.: A theory of colors in combination – a descriptive model related to the NCS color-order system. Color. Res. Appl. 26(1), 4–28 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Mehrabian, A.: Individual differences in stimulus screening and arousability. J. Pers. 45, 237–250 (1977)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. O’Connor, Z.: Colour psychology and colour therapy: Caveat emptor. Color Res. Appl. 36(3), 229–234 (2011)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zena O’Connor .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Section Editor information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Science+Business Media LLC

About this entry

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this entry

O’Connor, Z. (2021). Color Psychology. In: Shamey, R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_228-2

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_228-2

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-27851-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-27851-8

  • eBook Packages: Springer Reference Physics and AstronomyReference Module Physical and Materials ScienceReference Module Chemistry, Materials and Physics

Publish with us

Policies and ethics

Chapter history

  1. Latest

    Color Psychology
    Published:
    15 December 2020

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_228-2

  2. Original

    Color Psychology
    Published:
    18 July 2015

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_228-1